Compare Your Medicare and Drug Plan Options, According to the Senior Citizens League

“The process of comparing plans can be a chore and confusing. But there are Medicare advisers in every state who are available to help beneficiaries compare and select the best choice of coverage, with free individual counseling, ”says Johnson.

An estimated 39 million Medicare beneficiaries spend up to 29% of their Social Security benefits on healthcare costs, according to a new survey from the Senior Citizens League (TSCL). “That’s a huge chunk of a household’s budget, and it’s likely that many of these people are overpaying for premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses,” says Mary Johnson, Medicare policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League. “One of the best financial metrics Medicare beneficiaries can do is review health and drug plan coverage and compare options during Medicare’s fall open enrollment period, which begins on the 15th. October and ends December 7, 2021, ”Johnson said. “For many people, this could potentially save hundreds of dollars, which would be the difference between having to split the pills or go without them, versus covering all the prescriptions and ending up with a little bit of money left over.” says Johnson, who helps friends and family. with the task.

With inflation soaring in 2021, the Senior Citizens League has received dozens of emails from retired and disabled adults who say they’ve cut back on their prescription drugs to keep up with rising costs because they don’t. have no savings. A disabled retiree said: “My husband and I have social security as our only income. All of our savings went to pay my medical bills. I have seven prescriptions and my husband has three. They are each a minimum of $ 12 in co-pay per month. We have no additional money. Our grocery budget is the only place we can cut back if we want to pay the medical bills. “

“Splitting up pills, taking prescriptions every other day, or simply not renewing prescriptions is dangerous to health, especially when the drug is essential for conditions like diabetes,” says Johnson, whose mother was diabetic. “The process of comparing plans can be a chore and confusing. But there are Medicare advisers in every state who are available to help beneficiaries compare and select the best choice of coverage, with free individual counseling, ”says Johnson.

For the past 16 years, Johnson has helped friends and family compare medicare and drug plans. “It takes patience, but it’s probably the best return on the comparison buys you make all year,” Johnson said. Here are some benchmarks:

  • Acquire help. Free one-on-one counseling is available to help you compare health plans through your state health insurance program (SHIP): check this link for your local program and make an appointment with a counselor. Open Medicare enrollment begins October 15 and ends December 7, 2021. Medicare counselors can help you consider the important pros and cons. Some choices have hidden traps. Ditching your current coverage in favor of a low-cost health plan that boasts extra benefits isn’t a good idea until you check out the important details.
  • Update your health expense records and review the annual notice of change to your current plans: Drug and health plans send out their annual notice of change for 2022 from September to October of this year. Go through these details to find out what could affect you in 2022. Start a cost list, break down what you’ll pay for all premiums, all out-of-pocket expenses you typically pay. List what you spend out of pocket for dental, vision and hearing services, as well as any expenses such as glasses and hearing aids. If you compare current Medigap coverage with Medicare Advantage, you will need to know what type of services you are using and what you are typically paying out of pocket now for those services, if any. Worksheets kept for tax purposes, statements, check registers can be an excellent source of this information.
  • Find out all of your options for health and drug plans by using the Medicare plan search engine first: we recommend that you use this tool rather than trying to verify plans or individual insurers, which could quickly become overwhelming and aggravating. You can contact the insurers for more details later when you have reduced your best bets.
  • Look for health and drug coverage based on the drugs you’re actually taking: Plans vary wildly based on the price of prescription drugs, and you can spend hundreds of dollars more per year than you need to. Do your research for health plans or standalone drug plans by entering all the drugs you are taking to get the best choice of plans for you at the lowest cost. Make a list of each medicine you take, the dosage and how much you take in a month or 90 days if by mail. The details of spelling and dosage are important for more accurate results. The Medicare Plan Finder will first display a list of plans showing the cheapest plan. It is important to check the reasons why the plan costs less, especially if the plan covers ALL of your prescription drugs. When checking plan cost details, check the prescription price difference between standard retail pharmacies and mail order.

The Senior Citizens League supports proposals that strengthen Medicare for dental, visual and audio services, and reduce prescription drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices. To learn more, visit: http://www.SeniorsLeague.org.

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With 1.2 million supporters, the Senior Citizens League is one of the largest non-partisan senior groups in the country. Its mission is to promote and assist members and supporters, to educate and alert seniors about their rights and freedoms as U.S. citizens, and to protect and defend the benefits that seniors have earned and paid for. The Senior Citizens League is proud to be affiliated with the Retired Enlisted Association. Visit http://www.SeniorsLeague.org for more information.

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